Named for Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and courage, the proud marble columns of Athens – once the most powerful city in ancient Greece – mirror the fortitude of the goddess herself. Athens was the birthplace of democracy, theater, and Western civilization, and the city's cultural richness and history is evident in its architecture. Majestic, strong, and purely white, the sturdy columns of the Parthenon, which crowns the city, give travelers a glimpse into Athens' architectural perfection; this symbol of classic architecture continues to hover over the city and is one of many reasons tourists visit Athens in droves. Travel to Athens is a must for history and archeology buffs, but the city's hillsides and picturesque vistas will be equally appreciated by nature lovers. Our Athens travel guide will help you navigate the many riches of Athens.
Things Not to Miss in Athens
When you visit Athens, be sure to take in the city's legendary historical sites, including:
• The Acropolis
• The Parthenon
• The Temple of Hephaestus
• The National Archeological Museum
• The Ancient Agora
• Mount Lycabettus
When to Go to Athens
Athens is sunny and warm year-round; consequently, it is a destination that can be visited at any time of the year. Most tourists choose to visit Athens during the spring and fall, when the temperatures are at their most agreeable. Though the month of August can be quite hot, hotel rates tend to drop during this time, and the streets are quieter. Likewise, winter brings fewer visitors. Some tourists may prefer to travel to Athens during these off seasons, when they can savor the city in relative peace.
- A stroll inside the Syntagma Square (a.k.a. Constitution Square) metro station, where artifacts uncovered during the building of the subway, from skeletons to pre-Christian plumbing, are displayed.
- The changing of the guard in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Syntagma Square’s pink Parliament Building. Every Sunday at 11 a.m., the Evzone guards—soldiers chosen for their height and, it’s rumored, good looks—in ceremonial dress (yes, that means a pleated skirt and pom-pom-toed shoes) perform an elaborately choreographed ceremony.
- Wandering the alleys of Anafiotika, a whitewashed, 19th-century village along the northern slope of the Acropolis that was built by refugees from the Cycladic island of Anafi. It’s a quiet, homey oasis in the heart of teeming Athens.